If you’re an active part of your city or town’s community, you may have noticed a sudden spike in the number of activities and events relating to business and entrepreneurship. That’s because we’re now in the midst of Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW); a week wholly dedicated to inspiring people to unleash their ideas and take the next step in the entrepreneurial journey.
Today, however, we’re celebrating Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (WED), an official day that encourages all of us to honor, engage, and empower female entrepreneurs.
While celebrating such events is good fun in its own right, Women’s Entrepreneurship Day has the potential to change the lives of about 812 million women living in developing countries, each of whom has the potential to contribute to their communities and economies in some way.
Given the direct correlation between policies that are put in place to support women and the opportunities that are available to women, it’s little wonder we’re globally campaigning for change and acknowledgement.
If you’d like to take part in supporting women today, you can find a list of events here, or you can reach out to WED on Twitter or Facebook. Alternatively, take a look at what your own town is doing to mark the occasion—Eventbrite and Meetup are two great resources that will help you find such events.
Why Women’s Entrepreneurship Day?
We’ve said it before and now Women’s Entrepreneurship Day is saying it too: It’s rough out there for a woman in business. If you’re asking, “Why have a women’s day during Global Entrepreneurship Week?” we’ve got some numbers that might just make you wonder why we didn’t start doing something about it sooner.
Grim recent statistics from the World Economic Forum’s 2014 Global Gender Gap Index reveal that out of 142 economies studied, not one has true gender equality. Even the top country—Iceland—is only 85% of the way toward closing its gender gap. There is certainly a long road ahead when first place goes to a country that still has a way to go.
Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark are close runners up, leaving the rest of the world trailing sadly behind. Relating to business, it should be mentioned that African countries Burundi, Malawai, Bostwana, and Kenya all made the index’s “economic participation and opportunity” top ten.
A big part of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day is highlighting the people who are working worldwide to increase economic opportunity for women and girls. You can find a list of these key women—speaking at the UN—on the WED website. You can also find a list of the distinguished WED fellows here.
If you know women that have made a positive impact on others’ lives, there really is no better time than today to do a shout-out and acknowledge them. Share their achievements and successes with the world, but also take the time to think about what you can do to help close this gender gap.
As reported by Entrepreneurship.org, even when women have the skills needed to run “high-impact ventures, the lack of strong networks can dwarf their growth.”
Women’s Entrepreneurship Day strives to address this problem by shining a spotlight on those women who have achieved success. They’ve now even got a certification option which makes doing so that much easier as the certification is completely free and connects women with a support group.
In the face of so much injustice, it’s easy to feel discouraged. Instead, we are seeing women (and their male supporters) around the world take heart and take charge. Natalie MacNeil of She Takes on the World Inc. told me that she feels it’s important for women entrepreneurs to celebrate themselves. “Entrepreneurship is a roller coaster, and it’s important to celebrate all the little wins along the way,” she says.
And there certainly have been wins:
- Rwanda, a country so recently torn apart by war and genocide, is now a stable nation with a parliament that is comprised of 63.8% female members.
- At the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, contributors Nafeesa Syeed and Rahilla Zafar have written a book titled Arab Women Rising, on the amazing progress of female entrepreneurs in the Middle East. You can download it for free.
- According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, over the past 15 years women-owned businesses in the United States have been growing at one and half times the rate of most other businesses.
- The World Economic Forum reports that of the 111 countries that have been featured in the Global Gender Gap Index, 105 of them have been making progress.
While there is still work to be done before we can call ourselves globally equal, we are making strides in the right direction.
How Are Women Around the World Celebrating?
People around the world are doing different things to celebrate Women’s Entrepreneurship Day. I spoke with several businesses who shared their creative ideas for marking this occasion. Some are definitely worth applying if you are a business owner!
1. Stage a social media campaign
“My site, Hip New Jersey, will be celebrating on the 19th with a social media campaign highlighting all the women-owned businesses we have featured on the show since our launch in January,” says Lisa Marie Latino, an Executive Producer.
Andrew Herrault of Equality Mag has a different approach: “For Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, we’ll ask our female followers to share their business successes and struggles, and promote some of the best stories. Other than that, we’ll just do our best to promote the day across all our social platforms.”
The Women’s Entrepreneurship Day official website reminds people that you can contribute to causes with “time, talent, and treasure”, and you can volunteer with WED directly. Of course, you can also volunteer with relevant causes in your area.
Jennifer Martin, founder of Zest Business Consulting, is volunteering her time as a guest business consultant with an organization that supports women’s entrepreneurship, and offering some services at pay-what-you-can rates in honor of the day.
3. Give back
Brian Stumbaugh of Emitations told us, “Women’s Entrepreneurship Day is particularly important to us at Emitations because our CEO, Au-co Mai, is a female entrepreneur herself who started Emitations from her dorm room while attending UC San Diego. To celebrate the day, we redouble our efforts to promote our Women in Business Scholarship to encourage young women throughout the country to start their own businesses and follow their dreams.”
Scholarships or mentorship programs are an excellent way to show your support for up and coming female entrepreneurs and invest in a more equal future.
And, if not that, giving back in the form of time is just as valuable. Are there any groups or organizations you can volunteer for or start within you community, aimed at helping women succeed?
4. Start a braintrust
If you’re not familiar with the idea of a braintrust, you can read about it here, but the basic premise is: bring together an intelligent and creative group of people, and sit with them to brainstorm, connect, and problem solve.
Blair Natasi, CEO of Media Moguls PR is doing something similar today: “I’m celebrating by taking a small group of my favorite female entrepreneur friends and a couple of my female business mentors to lunch for a socializing and brainstorming session. I’ve found that often the best ideas are formed through strategic partnerships and teamwork. In the past, I’ve co-created events, PSA campaigns, and even business ideas with my female colleagues and I think this day is a great excuse to celebrate and do more of that!”
Women’s Entrepreneurship Day is about causes as well as businesses. A good way to show support for female entrepreneurs is to donate to a cause that affects women.
Madhavi Jagdish of Simple Bra is doing just that. “For women’s entrepreneurship day, I am going to launch a blog featuring interviews I’ve done over the past few months with about 10 women as well as create some graphics that people can share to promote the day. In addition, I am donating 25% of my proceeds from Nov. 15 to Dec. 15 to BCAction, a local San Francisco Breast cancer organization,” she told us.
6. Make the WOW pledge
The pledge is simple “To empower, celebrate, and support women in business and build a strong network for change worldwide.” The eventual goal is to create a database of all who have pledged, for people who want to support these businesses or get involved.
In addition to today’s events, don’t forget to check out the social media campaign that WED is launching on December 3rd to showcase women entrepreneurs: #WomenWOW. In this case, WOW is an acronym for Women on Wednesdays. Their aim is to have people share and spotlight women owned and led businesses on social media.
Have we missed any ideas? We’d love to hear yours.
Is your workplace celebrating Women’s Entrepreneurship Day? What’s it like to be a woman in business in your part of the world?